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Zelkovich: TV's confusing, except for soccer nuts


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In passing, Zelkovich mentions that FSWC will have the FA Cup. Let's hope he's right.


TV's confusing, except for soccer nuts

Chris Zelkovich

Toronto Star

654 words

18 August 2006

The Toronto Star




Copyright © 2006 The Toronto Star

That dazed look you often see on sports fans' faces isn't necessarily the product of too much television watching or listening to Joe Theismann.

It's often caused by the rather confusing world of sports broadcasting in this country.

Can you blame anyone for being a little perplexed wondering why the company that owns the Blue Jays can't get all of their games on its own TV channel. Or that Guatemalan soccer will be on television on a weekend most Canadians won't be able to see Sunday's key NASCAR Nextel Cup race in Michigan.

The NASCAR situation illustrates the strange world in which the Canadian sports television system operates.

TSN runs a lot of NASCAR, but never considered picking up the race because the PGA Championship is this weekend. If you're wondering why TSN has a golf tournament that Canadians can watch on CBS, the answer is it will draw more viewers than NASCAR and will even make a few dollars.

That's all part of the way Canadian television works.

Rogers Sportsnet also carries NASCAR, but it has a Blue Jays game Sunday and that obviously takes priority.

The Score was offered the race, but passed because it needs horse racing to fulfil its Canadian content requirements. "And we don't do one-offs," says Score general manager David Errington.

Speed was out of the question because it's an American channel that doesn't have rights to the race.

The best NASCAR could do was to get the race on a free preview for Rogers, Cogeco and Bell ExpressVu digital customers on NASCAR In Car.

"It's a partial fix," says NASCAR international marketing director Robbie Weiss. "At least some people will be able to see the race."

The problem, Weiss says, is that there aren't enough sports channels in Canada.

"If you look at the number of sports properties that are concentrated on those two networks, you realize there's not a lot of available space," he says. "In any other country in the world you would have multiple channels that could service that, whereas in Canada it is very limited."

Considering how many sports channels this country has, that seems to be a preposterous statement. But because federal regulators won't license competing channels, most of the sports entries are digital operations with specialized programming such as rugby, hockey, horse racing and basketball.

Oh yes, and soccer. When it comes to that sport, Canadians have no reason to complain about coverage.

The English Premier League opens its season tomorrow and once again Canadians will be able to watch more English soccer than those who live in England.

Sportsnet will carry 94 games, mostly with its Saturday morning triple-header. Fox Sports World Canada will air more than 90 with live Sunday morning and weekday games as well as some tape-delayed Saturday offerings.

Sportsnet will also carry Canadian national games, starting with the world under-20 women's tournament this week.

TSN will have the Champions League series again. Fox will also carry the FA Cup and FIFA club championships, the USL and games from the Argentine, Mexican and Italian leagues.

Telelatino once again has the weekend Italian Serie A package. GolTV will have games from most places on the planet, including the German, Spanish, Italian, Brazilian and various Central American leagues. It also has UEFA Cup games and World Cup qualifiers.

Rogers community television also has nine Toronto Lynx games.

This is great for soccer nuts, but NASCAR fans are wondering why they've been left out.

HAZEL WATCH: The Hazel Mae legend continues to grow in Boston. A cardboard cutout of the former Sportsnet anchor was offered on eBay this week with an asking price of $5. It sold for $400 (U.S.).

czelkov @ thestar.ca

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quote:Originally posted by sstackho

In passing, Zelkovich mentions that FSWC will have the FA Cup. Let's hope he's right.

haha... that's the way it should be. But I disagree that there aren't enough sports channels. As long as the laughable "Canadian content" rule is in effect, certain sporting events are gonna go untelevised. Today it might only be NASCAR, but tomorrow it might be a real sport.

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Figured a similarly-themed, but less-footie-positive article from today would fit in this same thread. Don't even ask why someone would even bother asking if Euro footie is a "prime-time" property! Time zones, anyone?

Truth & Rumours

Sports Column

Ad exec would buy Coronation Street before soccer


905 words

18 August 2006

The Globe and Mail



All material copyright Bell Globemedia Publishing Inc. or its licensors. All rights reserved.

World Cup hoopla helped lift television audiences to record numbers, but soccer continues to languish as a niche sport in Canada, an advertising executive says.

“I'd rather buy Coronation Street,” said Dennis Dinga, the vice-president of broadcast buying for the M2 Universal advertising agency in Toronto.

The merits of the popular British soap notwithstanding, Rogers Sportsnet vice-president David Akande takes a more optimistic view of soccer. With the English Premier League returning to television this weekend, he feels the sport's appeal is growing.

“If we're talking about a prime-time property, it doesn't work in this marketplace,” Akande said. “But in terms of niche and broadening that niche, it does.”

Sportsnet's English Premier League audiences last season increased marginally. The Saturday tripleheaders averaged 62,000 viewers, up 3 per cent from the previous year. The two late games, at 10 a.m. and 12:30 p.m., had an average of 76,000, an improvement of 1 per cent.

Dinga isn't impressed.

“It's a non-issue from a media [buying] perspective, absolutely,” he said. “Even for the World Cup, the audiences weren't huge, huge, huge. Nowhere close.”

World Cup records were set, but most audiences didn't match viewership for a midweek telecast of a regular-season game featuring the Toronto Maple Leafs or Vancouver Canucks.

Akande sees soccer appealing to a core and nibbling away at the edges.

“I can tell you that for me and the other guys in the hockey dressing room, more and more people know the players,” he said. “It used to be, ‘Oh, I know one player.' Now, they know five. They know a couple of teams. And they admit to watching a couple of matches a year. I think the fringe numbers are going up.”

Sportsnet analyst Craig Forrest believes the World Cup, by showcasing the game's stars, inspires enough interest in newcomers to draw some of them to the best players' club teams.

“If you give them something to hang their hat on, it becomes a habit,” Forrest said.

Sportsnet's English Premier League schedule will begin tomorrow with Sheffield United playing Liverpool at 7:30 a.m. EDT, followed by Newcastle-Wigan Athletic at 10 a.m. The afternoon game will be Bolton-Tottenham Hotspur at 12:30 p.m.

TSN's soccer content in 2006-07 will consist of UEFA Champions League coverage beginning on Sept. 12, with games carried on Tuesdays and Wednesdays .

There is one important change to soccer coverage. The English Premier League schedule that includes the big Sunday game has moved to Fox Sports Canada from The Score.

The Score didn't want to lose the package, but Fox, as the North American rights holder, took it and placed it on FSC, which is competing for viewers with another soccer digital channel, GOLTV.

The switch should help improve FSC's subscriber base, but it is of no benefit to the viewer. The Score, as an analog channel, is on a basic tier and widely accessible. Viewers will need a digital box or satellite dish, and a subscription, to get FSC.

• FSC's Sunday telecast this weekend will have Chelsea playing Manchester United at 11 a.m.

• GOLTV's German Bundesliga coverage will continue tomorrow with Werder Bremen-Bayer Leverkusen at 9:30 a.m., followed by a tape-delayed telecast of Alemannia Aachen-Schalke 04 at 11:30 a.m.

• Forrest, on the likelihood of Cristiano Ronaldo enjoying the coming season with ManU after his confrontation with teammate Wayne Rooney in the World Cup Portugal-England game: “Everywhere Ronaldo goes, he's going to get absolutely pilloried. It will either break him or make him stronger.”

• Forrest predicts Arsenal will finish first in the English Premier League: “They're stronger because of French striker Thierry Henry and Czech midfielder Tomas Rosicky.”

• Toronto FC, the new Major League Soccer franchise, will begin play next year, but will it get coverage on a major Canadian sports channel? It's going to be tough. TSN has a full slate in the spring and summer consisting of hockey, football and baseball. Sportsnet is packed with baseball. Would a Saturday night slot on TSN or Sportsnet work?

CBC top of hill

The CBC announced a four-year TV and multimedia agreement with the International Ski Federation yesterday. The deal, which involves World Cup competitions, including at Lake Louise, Alta., and the world championships, will run through the 2009-10 season.

Hockey on cable

A quick look at National Hockey League content on cable television in 2006-07.

TSN has a 70-game national schedule that includes nine Montreal Canadiens games, seven Leafs games, six with the Ottawa Senators, five each with the Canucks and the Calgary Flames and four with the Edmonton Oilers.

RDS will carry every Montreal Canadiens game nationally.

Regional schedules:

• Montreal: No English-language package.

• Toronto: TSN will air 20 Leafs games; Sportsnet Ontario will have 15; Leafs TV, the club-owned digital service, will air all eight exhibition games and 12 in the regular season.

• Ottawa: 35 games on Sportsnet East and in the Ottawa region; 20 games on A-Channel.

• Calgary: 40 games on Sportsnet West.Edmonton: 48 games on Sportsnet West.

• Vancouver: a minimum of 40 games on Sportsnet Pacific.


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There'll always be some live game/event left out, this time it's NASCAR.

As to the ratings soccer has on Sportsnet...well RSN must think it's good or they'd have stopped covering EPL years ago. As to my own beefs, I get 3 Sportsnet EPL games a week , 1 TV5 Ligue 1 game a week plus RDS/TSN Champions League and RDS has 6 Impact games. Oh yeah I know Sportsnet has Canadian National teams 'cuz I watched Women's U-20 Canada vs Finland to-day. So If the ratings and advert $$ were so bad, why can I get 4-6 games a week on basic cable?

I'd like to see a return of La liga to Sportsnet and FA CUP also UEFA CUP but I'm just cheap and don't wanna pay for for more channels.

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Some details about the proposed Setanta channel. Sorry about the spacing.

Truth & Rumours

Sports Column

Canadian soccer fans may be treated to two new channels


1123 words

22 August 2006

The Globe and Mail



All material copyright Bell Globemedia Publishing Inc. or its licensors. All rights reserved.

Viewers keen to watch more soccer can expect one and perhaps two new channels to launch before the end of the year.

Setanta Sports, an international soccer-rights holder, is preparing to place a subscription channel in Canada that will air many of the best games played in the English Premier League.

Rogers Sportsnet carries Premiership games on Saturdays and Fox Sports World Canada has a Sunday morning game.

But some of the top match-ups are not being seen because they are the exclusive property of Setanta.

Setanta's EPL rights include first pick of the Saturday 10 a.m. EDT lineup, as well as exclusive rights to the best Sunday 8:30 a.m. game, plus rights to the leading match-ups on Tuesday and Wednesday.

The Setanta channel will be up and running in three to four months, said Shane O'Rourke, president of North American operations for Setanta.

Setanta will link up with a Canadian partner, believed to be TeleLatino Network Inc., which is licensed for two new channels: RCS Television and Soccer Television.

O'Rourke would say only that the partnership will be for three years and subscribers will be billed $14.99 a month for the service.

Setanta, in addition to the EPL, airs the Coca-Cola Championship (second tier in England), Champions League content, live French and Dutch games, and taped Scottish Premier games.

It is speculated a Setanta-TeleLatino partnership will result in RCS Television being renamed Setanta Sports Canada.

TeleLatino's second channel, Soccer Television, could be the new home of Fox Soccer Channel Canada.

If Fox Soccer Channel Canada is launched on the TeleLatino soccer outlet, questions will be raised about the future of Fox Sports World Canada, which also focuses on soccer. Will it be made redundant?


He's a funny guy on TV, but a New York Times piece portrays Washington Post columnist and ESPN personality Tony Kornheiser as temperamental and weirdly thin-skinned.

Kornheiser's debut on ESPN's Monday Night Football telecast last week was sharply criticized by Post colleague Paul Farhi. Kornheiser's response on ESPN radio was to say, “I apparently got ripped in my own newspaper, The Washington Post. You know, by a two-bit weasel slug named Paul Farhi, who I would gladly run over with a Mack truck given the opportunity.”

Kornheiser said he deliberately used inflammatory language in an attempt to be funny.

But the Times cited other examples. When Mike Golic, an ESPN host, described Kornheiser's work as merely “fine,” Kornheiser said, “I just want to ring Golic's neck and hang him up over the back of a shower rod like a duck.”

And when Stephen Rodrick, writing in the on-line magazine Slate, pointed out that Mr. Kornheiser, a busy guy, had not quoted anybody in his Post column for months, Kornheiser, according to Washingtonian magazine, suggested that Slate, which is owned by the Post, should dump Rodrick.

Thin-skinned (2)

Bryant Gumbel makes incendiary comments occasionally. His suggestion of racism in Winter Olympic sports this year was stupid and drew a large amount of criticism.

Last week, he said on HBO that outgoing National Football League commissioner Paul Tagliabue will need to show his successor “where he keeps Gene Upshaw's leash.”

Upshaw, of course, is executive director of the NFL Players' Association, an organization that in the past has been perceived as tame, even toothless — although the NFL players made gains in the most recent collective deal.

Because of his remark, Gumbel's job calling late-season league games on the NFL Network (the games will be seen on TSN in Canada) may be in jeopardy.

Tagliabue, in high dudgeon, said, “What Gumbel said about Gene Upshaw and our owners is about as irresponsible as anything I've heard in a long time.”

We're betting Gumbel keeps his NFL job.

Soaring TV numbers

Take Tiger Woods and throw in a challenge by Mike Weir — albeit a tepid challenge that turned into a swoon — and you get a strong golf audience.

TSN drew 623,000 for the final round of the PGA Championship on Sunday, up 27 per cent from last year.

CBS's overnight rating of 7.2, driven by Woods winning his 12th major title, was up 22 per cent from last year and was the network's highest since 2002 when Rich Beem's victory over Woods earned an 8 rating. A rating represents the percentage of U.S. households watching a telecast.

• On the opening weekend, English Premier League viewership on Rogers Sportsnet was up a huge 72 per cent from last year. Why? Fallout from the World Cup, which drew record audiences in Canada.

Women's final

CBC said a prior commitment took Bruce Rainnie away from yesterday's Rogers Cup final. The match was called by two women: Brenda Irving, doing a spare play by play, and Tracy Austin, working as colour commentator.


Rating the weekend


Golf (PGA Championship) TSN 255,000 Strong number for second round of a major.

Tennis (Rogers Cup) TSN 143,000 Women's quarter final up 79 per cent from last year.

Baseball (Jays-Orioles) Sportsnet 242,000 Jays lit up by TSN's big CFL number.

Football (Eskimos-Lions) TSN 433,000 TSN's highest of the season.


Soccer (Sheffield-Liverpool) Sportsnet 43,000 Up 13 per cent from last year's opener.

Soccer (Newcastle-Wigan) Sportsnet 73,000 A whopping increase of 97 per cent.

Soccer (Bolton-Tottenham) Sportsnet 107,000 The World Cup influence. Up 107 per cent.

Tennis (Rogers Cup) CBC 82,000 Not much interest in women's semi-final.

Golf (PGA Championship) TSN 412,000 Mike Weir's big round produces audience jump of 32 per cent.

Baseball (Jays-Orioles) Sportsnet 170,000 The 15-0 debacle produces lowest audience of season.

Football (Alouettes-Argos) TSN 370,000 Football wins the night.

Auto racing (Busch Series) Sportsnet 158,000 Good number for NASCAR on Sportsnet.

Football (Ticats-Roughriders) CBC 313,000 Down from CBC's season average of 373,000.


Soccer (Finland-Canada) Sportsnet 22,000 An 8 a.m. EDT start for under-20 women's game.

Golf (PGA Championship) TSN 623,000 Big audience, up 22 per cent.

Tennis (Rogers Cup) CBC 115,000 Delayed semi-final fares fairly well in tough slot.

Baseball (Jays-Orioles) Sportsnet 283,000 Doc Halladay wins one for Jays.

Football (Seahawks-Colts) TSN 181,000 Most watched NFL preseason game on TSN ever.

Baseball (Yankees-Red Sox) Sportsnet 200,000 Two marquee teams produce big MLB audience.

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